December 17, 2021 – Top infectious disease officials expect an increase in COVID-19 cases after the holidays and say Omicron will soon take on the role of the dominant species in the United States.
The best way to stay protected is vaccination and reinforcement, they say.
“For the unvaccinated, you are looking at a winter of severe illness and death – for yourself, families and hospitals that could soon be flooded,” White House coordinator for COVID-19 Jeff Zients said at a briefing on Friday. “We need the American people to do their part.”
The Omicron variant has been detected in at least 39 states and 75 countries, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD.
The strain is more transmissible than the highly contagious one anyway Delta variant, and although there was early evidence that it caused a milder illness, she said it was probably because many of those infected were vaccinated and reinforced.
“Although the Delta continues to circulate widely in the United States, Omicron is growing rapidly and we expect it to become the dominant species in the United States, as in other countries, in the coming weeks,” Walensky said.
The U.S. records an average of close to 1,300 deaths from COVID-19 each day. The number of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations is now higher than last winter – before vaccines were so widely available. The New York Times reported on Friday that new infections in Connecticut and Maine have risen 150% in the past 2 weeks, and Ohio and Indiana are recording hospitalization rates approaching their worst rise last winter.
Reports of duels released this week have given cause for relief and concern about Omicron.
A study from South Africa released on Tuesday shows lower hospitalizations during the first 3 weeks of the Omicron wave than during earlier waves from other variants. That’s a good news.
The worrying news is outside the United Kingdom, where he reported to Imperial College London On Friday, the risk of re-infection with COVID-19 from Omicron is more than 5 times higher and that the cases of COVID-19 based on Omicron double every 2 days.
Moreover, the study finds no evidence that Omicron has a lower weight than Delta, judging by the proportion of positive people who reported symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection. However, data on hospitalization are still very limited at the moment, “the researchers said.
“We have no evidence that the virus itself is milder,” said Eric Topol, MD, executive vice president of Scripps Research and editor-in-chief of Medscape, WebMD’s sister site for healthcare professionals. PBS NewsHour. “Until we get that, we have to assume that people who have no protection are very vulnerable to getting very sick.”
The White House team for COVID-19 continues to call on parents and carers to vaccinate their children, especially in anticipation of the rise after the holidays. Walensky said from the CDC vaccine The Advisory Committee met on Thursday to continue the security debate on COVID-19 vaccinations in children.
So far, 20 million children under the age of 17 and 5 million under the age of 11 have been vaccinated.
“Especially looking at vaccine safety data from over 50,000 children aged 5 to 11, we found no evidence of serious safety concerns,” Walensky said.
Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, stressed the importance of vaccinations and reinforcements to avoid serious diseases from Delta and Omicron.
“We are in a situation where we are now facing a very important increase in the Delta and we are looking over our shoulders at the upcoming increase of Omicron,” he said. “Optimal protection is fully vaccinated plus incentive.”